Gabriella Regina, our precious, sweet baby girl, was born Wednesday, April 22, at 5:57a.m.! We have spent the past nine months eagerly anticipating her arrival, praying for her, dreaming of what she would be like and what God might have planned for her life. We knew God must have big plans for this girl when he made it possible for her to be blessed by Pope Francis back in August! But as we prayed about the name that God had in mind for this little one, I was blown away by the beautiful reassurances he has given us in the name he has chosen for her.
My husband Zach’s dear Grandma Regina, an incredible woman of faith and strength, passed away this past December at 94 years old, and there was a beautiful moment on the day that she passed when the whole extended family was there with her in the nursing home and she suddenly opened her eyes, looked straight at my mother-in-law, and said, “I have seen your baby girl. She is big and strong, and she has my blood in her. And you’re going to have to hold her a lot!” Zach and I arrived at the nursing home right afterwards, and the family members were in tears telling us about this miraculous moment. As I prayed with her words in the following weeks, one day in Mass I was convicted that our daughter’s name needed to be connected to strength, and I quickly looked up all of the baby names that meant ‘strength.’ To my disappointment, none of them stood out to me, so we decided to keep waiting.
The next day, I was going through the list of baby names that we liked and was looking up the meaning of each one in order to help us choose. My jaw dropped when I got to ‘Gabriella’—meaning ‘strength from God’ or ‘God is my strength’! I was immediately convicted that this was the name God had in mind for her. We had wanted to give her the middle name ‘Regina’ after Zach’s grandma, and later as I was praying with the Annunciation passage I had another surprising epiphany. The archangel Gabriel (‘Gabriella’) not only revealed to Mary in the Annunciation that she would be the mother of God, but he also revealed that she would be queen, since in those times the mother (not the wife) of the King was the Queen. Gabriel speaks of Jesus’ kingship three times in the Annunciation passage, and ‘Regina’ is Latin for Queen! I was so excited that her name would be so closely connected with Our Lady, especially in the Annunciation which has always been a favorite of mine! I have grown so much in my love for Our Lady throughout this pregnancy, especially in her ‘fiat’ of total surrender to the Lord’s plan even when there would be so much suffering ahead. And giving birth during a pandemic has definitely forced me to learn surrender and trust and to lean on Our Lady’s intercession!
There are so many other little ‘God moments’ that have confirmed that this is the name that the Lord desires for this little one, but one that really stood out to me was the First Reading from daily Mass on Tuesday of Holy Week, from Isaiah 49:1-6. It said, “The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb He gave me my name… And I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength!” I had to laugh when I read it, incredulous that it spoke so directly to her name! Even though we know that she will not be perfect and we will be far from perfect parents, it has been a beautiful and humbling journey discerning and receiving the name that God has chosen for His beloved daughter that He has entrusted to us. It has been such a poignant reminder of His intimate care and concern for each of us, tenderly stitching us together in our mother’s womb and loving us so deeply throughout our lives. Let us take comfort in that gentle and steadfast love during this difficult time!